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IT vs. business: The ultimate balancing act

Advancing the business while protecting the cyber core

In cybersecurity today, there’s too much IT vs. business and not enough IT and business. How can the two work better together, especially with high demands on everyone’s time? Teresa Tonthat, assistant vice president of IT & CISO, Texas Children’s Hospital, discusses aligning business needs with IT requirements.

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The cybersecurity dance: IT in step with the business

IT and business executives often have different priorities. While the business and IT may align on the importance of growth and innovation, IT also has the daunting responsibility of protecting the cyber core. So what does it take to balance security with business reward?

In this episode of the Resilient podcast, Teresa Tonthat discusses the importance of cyber-business empathy—and how she’s balancing needs to ensure the availability, reliability, and security necessary to protect the foundation. To accomplish that goal, Teresa is taking a collaborative approach to managing IT initiatives. Her methodology includes monthly business engagement meetings, job shadowing, and weekly town halls to prioritize business and core cyber needs. She believes these interactions foster better understanding and awareness, and help the hospital deliver on its core mission: helping patients.

Teresa also advocates for ongoing transparency around cyber issues and believes training is key to accomplishing cyber goals. From regular communication of industry cyber breaches to monthly phishing simulations, even at the board level, Teresa’s team is helping the business better understand the importance of protecting the cyber core.

When it comes to her leadership style, Teresa believes a pioneer spirit is necessary to keep up with the changing threat landscape.

It's important to have a balance as a security leader… being very focused on delivery and getting capabilities in place to secure the organization, but you also have to save about 30 percent to look forward. Not necessarily pie-in-the-sky type ideas, but ideas and opportunities for us to do things better, smarter, cheaper, and faster. [And] technology is moving faster, threat actors are moving faster and getting more sophisticated, so we need to always think forward.

And there’s no doubt about it, Teresa is always on her toes—both professionally in managing a continuously changing health care perimeter and personally as a former ballerina and mother of three young children. Teresa attributes where she is today to her mentors. She encourages mentees to build a network of advisors, each with distinct skill sets, and to always stay connected.

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